PNC/R joins criticism of Luncheon statements on magistracy
Guyana Chronicle
February 9, 2002

ATTORNEY-at-Law and People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R) Member of Parliament, Mr. Raphael Trotman has joined other legal practitioners criticising a top Government official for remarks on alleged corruption in the magistracy.

Trotman said Thursday the remarks were "indeed very unfortunate".

Dr. Roger Luncheon, Head of the Presidential Secretariat and Cabinet Secretary, told a news conference Monday that a joint team will be investigating allegations of widespread corruption in the magistracy and indicated that some magistrates were involved in corrupt practices.

Trotman, at a PNC/R news conference at its Congress Place, Georgetown headquarters noted that from "time immemorial, there have always been and there will always be, allegations of impropriety and corruption pertaining to the magistracy and members of the judiciary in Guyana and elsewhere".

He, however, said he did not know that Luncheon had given up his position as Head of the Presidential Secretariat or as a medical practitioner to get into matters of the judiciary.

He argued that if there are allegations of corruption in the magistracy and involving magistrates, these should be referred to the Judicial Service Commission which could assess the information and mount its independent inquiries.

"It is quite unfortunate...that Dr. Luncheon could stay in the Office of the President and castigate the entire magistracy by saying that `I have absolutely no doubt that they are corrupt'," Trotman asserted.

"If he has those facts then it is his duty to appear before an inquiry and offer those facts to whoever has been appointed to oversee an investigation. But to just label all of the magistrates corrupt is beyond unfortunate," the PNC/R parliamentarian said.

"So you can't in one wave of the hand take down the entire magistracy. If you are in possession of the fact, then it is your duty to go to the Police and don't sit as some kind of judge and finder of fact in the Office of the President," Trotman offered.

He said the PNC/R had not received any particular allegation of corruption in the magistracy or which involves magistrates, but the party would "welcome a public and transparent inquiry into the magistracy if that is the route to go".

"...but don't sit in the Office of the President and deem the magistrates corrupt and then at the same time withhold any evidence you feel you may have to judge them on. Bring them to the public and give the persons an opportunity to be heard," he suggested.

Other lawyers have objected to the statements by Luncheon.

Luncheon said many ordinary Guyanese have been drawing to the Government's attention, and to the attention of the Chancellor, the Chief Magistrate and the Judicial Service Commission "the irregular, unlawful and corrupt practices of Magistrates all over the length and breadth of this country (and) this has been going on for quite some time."

"In the magistracy, corrupt practices have been uncovered and over and over, these have been brought to public attention," he told reporters at the Office of the President.

Luncheon also said he has absolutely no doubt that magistrates are involved in these corrupt practices. (MARK RAMOTAR)